Can one bike be instantly adjustable enough to tackle any sort of trail? German bike designers Bionicon obviously think so. We take its 70-150mm travel single pivot Edison Ltd do-it-all rig for a test spin.
There are plenty of bikes around these days with variable suspension travel and geometry. Some have bar-mounted levers to adjust the front and/or rear suspension, some involve reaching to the forks or shocks to twiddle levers and some have different rear shock mounts that adjust the suspension travel, ride feel and geometry for different types of terrain.
Bionicons offer a button on the bar that adjusts everything. The Bionicon’s basic function involves a couple of air lines in the down tube which link the fork and the shock. When you press the button on the bars, you allow air to move between the fork and the shock. If you press the button and lean back, the rear end drops and the fork extends, slackening the frame angles for steep drops. If you press the button and lean forward, you shorten the fork and extend the back end, steepening the geometry for steep climbs. You let it settle somewhere in between for normal trails.
You get used to the weight shift thing pretty quickly. The head and seat angles can shift between 67 and 74 degrees and the really clever bit is that, as the geometry shifts, the bottom bracket height and suspension travel/feel stay constant. How? Well, the moving air is kept apart from the air chambers that set suspension travel and spring rate. As with most suspension bikes, you need to set around 25% of the travel as sag by adjusting the air pressures.
We’ve never come across a single bike that handles steep climbs and steep drops as well as this. Once you’ve got used to the alien feeling of pressing a button to adjust your bike’s geometry, you’ll be wondering how you lived without it. Oh, and it’s a bit of a bargain compared to other heavyduty ‘all mountain’ bikes.
Bionicon’s custom made X-Fusion rear shock has a very effective rebound damping lever, but everything in their Double Agent fork comes factory set. The Edison frame has a single-pivot back end and the triple clamp air fork is fairly light. It weighs just under 30lb.